Society of Early Americanists Conferences

The SEA hosts annual conferences. In odd-numbered years, the Society hosts an open-topic general conference known as the Biennial Conference. In even-numbered years, it hosts Special Topics conferences. The SEA also sponsors panels at our affiliated societies: the American Literature Association & the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Forthcoming Conferences

The Society of Early Americanists Ninth Biennial Conference, Chicago, June 18-21, 2015

The Society of Early Americanists Ninth Biennial Conference will be held jointly with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Chicago, June 18-21, 2015. For more information about the conference, please visit the conference website, here.






The Society of Early Americanists, American Literature Association meeting on May 21-24, 2015, in Boston, MA

The Society of Early Americanists will be sponsoring three sessions at the next American Literature Association meeting on May 21-24, 2015, in Boston, MA. The Call for Papers deadline was January 15th and has now passed; more information about panel configurations is forthcoming.

From the ALA conference website: The American Literature Association’s 26th annual conference will meet at the Westin Copley Place in Boston on May 21-24, 2015 (Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend). The deadline for proposals is January 30, 2015. For further information, please consult the ALA website at or contact the conference director, Professor Olivia Carr Edenfield at with specific questions.

SEA Panel topics 2015:

1) Translation in Early America: Early Americans were a multilingual group: both American printing and the transatlantic book trade involved the circulation of texts in many languages. Early American readers sought to adopt new languages while early American writers adapted materials from one language into another for a variety of reasons. What has been called “the language encounter in the Americas” generated new topics for literature, theology, and the philosophy of language, and translation was seen as having a wide range of religious, political, and cultural implications. This panel seeks papers that interpret specific activities of translation, or read scenes of translation in early American literature. What methodological implications does translation have for early American literary studies?

2) Imagining Urban Identity in Early America: A good deal of early American writing may be seen as organizing space through urban topoi, but the problem of what constitutes urbanism or urbanity is very much an open question. This panel seeks papers which investigate how cities, real and imagined, are constructed in early American literature, or which consider how texts and other cultural materials circulated in cities. Can early American writings be said to imagine an urban identity? Moreover, what is at stake in defining urbanism or urbanity in early American writing? What are the imperial scripts through which urban space is organized in early America? Can we construct comparative accounts of urban identity that critique rather than repeat these scripts?

3) Teaching Early American Writing in Comparative Contexts: Presentations are sought on approaches to teaching early American writing in courses other than the American literature survey or the early American topics course: in the transatlantic, British, or world literature course; in the comparative colonial survey; in the Atlantic literature course, et cetera. Papers detailing specific case studies are welcome. Questions to be addressed may include the following: What useful connections can be drawn between American literature and world literature? What are some problems with teaching early American texts in the non-American literature course, and what are some possible greatest benefits of this approach? What are some effective strategies for presenting this material? What kinds of assignments put early American writing into comparative perspective?

Please direct any questions to:

Professor Len von Morzé
Society of Early Americanists ALA Conference liaison, 2014-2015
Department of English
University of Massachusetts Boston

TWO REMINDERS for participants in the SEA-ALA Sessions:

Each presenter at the ALA needs to register for the conference, which you can do by going to the American Literature Association’s Annual Conference website:

The SEA does ask each person on an SEA Sponsored Session to be a current member of our organization. If your paper is accepted and you are not yet an SEA member, we welcome you; please go to the SEA Membership page, here.

Thank you!

Image Credit: Chicago in 1868 from Schiller Street north side to 12th Street south side. Drawn by A. Ruger, Chicago, Chicago Lithographing Co. [1868], Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
Updated: 01/20/15